USGS - science for a changing world

Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center

Submarine Ground-water Discharge

Submarine Ground-water Discharge Diagram

Measuring Resisitivity to Gauge Submarine Groundwater Discharge

Streaming Resistivity (Marine-based)

Electrical resistivity measurements can detect variations in the salinity (conductivity = 1/resistivity) regime of subsurface pore water and porous sediments. Resistivity data can be collected under two scenarios, 1) time series, and 2) streaming survey modes. In streaming survey mode, the 120 m 8-channel streamer system collects instantaneous dipole-dipole measurements at ~3 s intervals. The 120 m electrode cable, which is towed along the water's surface at a speed of about 3-4 knots, consists of two current-producing graphite electrodes and nine stainless steel electrodes spaced 10 m apart. The depth of penetration for such a system is roughly one-third of the total streamer cable length. By merging the ship's navigation (latitude, longitude and depth) and an in-situ hydrographic data stream (salinity, pH, conductivity, temperature) with the resistivity data, inversion models can be run to process resistivity cross-sections.

Time-series Resistivity (Land-based)

Time-series resistivity for our projects is collected using an advanced Geosciences SuperSting R8 resistivity receiver and a custom 112 m long high resolution underwater cable that consists of 56 graphite electrodes spaced 2 m apart in a dipole-dipole array. This cable is deployed along the shore face and seabed using a combination of electrode stakes and sandbags. Resolution of sharp salinity boundaries can be increased by using a starting model with the apparent resistivity pseudo-section overlain by water column data based on bathymetry and two conductivity, temperature, and pressure sensors. The best fitting layered model is then found by using an iterative least squares smooth model inversion method. Results from such time series resistivity measurements are compared relative to water levels.

Stationary, time-series resistivity profiles
Stationary, time-series, multi-electrode resistivity profiles across a beach face as a function of water level. Inversion parameters were held constant for each time step. To highlight subsurface resistivity change at the land / sea interface, images reflect only the first 40 m of data. Inset graph of water level data collected from a Solinist Diver midway down cable, at electrode 28.

Read more

Multi-channel resistivity investigations of the fresh water / saltwater interface: A new tool to study an old problem
Abstract in "A New Focus on Groundwater–Seawater Interactions," IAHS Publ. 312, 2007


Simulated cover of USGS Publication OFR 2008-1364.Investigation of coastal hydrology utilizing
geophysical and geochemical tools
along the Broward County coast, Florida

USGS Open-File Report 2008-1364

Fact Sheet 2004-3117Novel Geophysical and Geochemical Techniques
Used to Study Submarine Groundwater Discharge
in Biscayne Bay, Florida

USGS Fact Sheet 2004-3117

This is a four-page full-color discussion of methods and tools in use in the study of submarine groundwater discharge in Biscayne Bay, Florida. Among the tools discussed are streaming resistivity profiling, electromagnetic seepage meters, and near-continous 222Rn surveys.

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Science questions to: Peter Swarzenski
Site maintained by: Laura Zink Torresan
Page Last Modified: 27 June 2012 (lzt)